Saturday July 28 was the Hendry County CERT training where Hendry County Emergency Management officials conducted training sessions for volunteers. Volunteers will help assist local citizens in case of any emergency event.
Richard Lehmkuhl is the new Hendry County Emergency Management Director. “The basic structure of the Hendry County Emergency Management falls under Incident Command Structure; everything is organized and compartmentalized in the most effective way to respond. So that we, for example, can expand on a small incident that turns out to be a big event. So it can be as big or as small as is needed.”
Basically, we do the same thing that FEMA does but with a lot less resources because we’re local,” Richard explains, “Our job is to handle things locally. We work with the state and FEMA as a last resort. EM starts off with the Incident Commander, EMS and the Fire Department. If it gets bigger, the next step is reaching out to other counties and after that the state and then FEMA.”
“A lot of people”, Richard goes on, “when they think of EM they think of hurricanes, but we deal with every hazard that affects this community; oil spills, traffic incidents, wildfires, and also thunderstorms and floodings. In case of an emergency, we manage the Fire Department and EMS, but we also provide them with additional resources when needed.”
“Today we train volunteers to be involved in and dedicated to their own communities in emergency situations,” Richard says, “it is our goal to get volunteers in every community that can go door-to-door to determine whether or not people need help. We train the volunteers in basic first-responding on the community level; in basic first-aid and search and rescue. Because with any big event, all the resources primarily go to the mass-populated areas first and then the smaller communities.”
What is the best way to prepare for hurricane season?
“First of all you have to know and identify the possible hazards and threats. One of the most important things is to mitigate, make a plan of attack, prepare a basic survival kit for at least 72 hours. You need the basic survival needs: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Think about it throughout the year. Because the power can go out in any severe thunderstorm.
Buy supplies in small portions at a time, buy one extra can of beans or an extra gallon of water every time you go to the store and store it in a portable container, don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. Count on the fact that help is not necessarily going to be there in the first 72 hours. Have a plan and work the plan.”
For more information, pick up an “All Hazards Guide” in English or Spanish from the county office or the library. There will also be some guides available at the Caloosa Belle office. Visit www.preparehendry.com to find information regarding signing up for emergency alerts. Residents can also text “HENDRYFLA” to 888777 to anonymously sign up for emergency alerts.